And that's all for today …
Sparks’ new album, Hippopotamus, is out 8 September.
Ian Nipper asks:
Russell: Have you ever taken singing lessons?
Ron: Have you ever taken singing lessons?
Does the song My Baby’s Taking Me Home have any hidden meaning in it?
Desert island picks …
If left on a remote island and allowed to bring only three things, what would they be?
We’re you in it for the fun or did you know you were iconic?
I thought that Let the Monkey Drive would have made a great (and commercial) single, as well as having the potential to be one of your best videos. Who has the most input on single releases: you or the record company?
Have you ever had to overcome a creative block? If so, how did you get through it?
Daniel Prendiville asks:
How much of a culture shock was it to come to the UK in the early 70s, and where do your Island releases sit within the context of your overall material?
What is your favourite classical piece of music? Which musical instruments do you most enjoy playing?
Which of Sparks songs are most difficult to sing?
Do you have any routine before going on stage?
Is originality in pop – as you are! – now a lost art or cause?
You don't like music any more? My doctor's note is in the mail…
I don’t enjoy music any more. Whose fault is that?
If you had to pick one song from the Sparks catalogue to introduce your music to someone who has never heard you, which one would it be, and why?
'Being overtly political seems too easy'
Thank you so much for all of your music. It got me through some difficult times earlier this year. But thanks to you guys, I have my positivity and energy back. And I’m probably not the only one. How does it feel, knowing you and your music had such an impact on people’s lives?
Sparks’ music never ages. Any advice to musicians today wanting your length of artistic longevity as to how to Beat the Clock?
The narrative of This Town somehow reminds me of James Thurber’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Was it an inspiration?
I bought Tryouts for the Human Race 12-inch picture disk. Most exotic record I ever owned. Do you think it was enhanced by the Peter Cook monologue? It was very mismatched, wasn’t it?
The only joke I ever wrote myself was the following: I was with the wife the other day at an airport gate for our flight. We’d been called and were queuing for the boarding desk when the two guys in front of us started arguing with the crew checking the passes. I couldn’t tell what it was about, but one of the guys with curly locks and a high-pitched voice suddenly snapped: “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us” and marched off towards the plane. His mate with a little Charlie Chaplin moustache just gave the desk crew a big weirdo stare and then followed on. I said to my missus: “I can see sparks flying here.”
Do you like it?
Has anything else interesting turned up in your pool?
What is your favourite Sparks album from the 70s?
This question is for Ron. Why did you eschew the toothbrush moustache for a pencil moustache in the mid-80s?
Kayla D asks:
Do either of you enjoy the films of Studio Ghibli (and if so, do you have any favourites? I have also wondered if either of you read the work of Osamu Tezuka, as I have seen photos in which Russell has an Astro Boy statue at his home. His graphic novel Apollo’s Song would make an incredible rock opera.
What award would you most like to win: a Grammy or an Oscar?
In Morrissey’s autobiography, he talks of getting Russell’s autograph at the age of 17, and how the first five Sparks albums were constant companions. There’s a lot of flowery praise, such as: “The lyrics of Ron Mael and the vocal sound of Russell Mael are solid and original factors, so unique that by the very laws of existence I can hardly believe they exist.” You then go on to release the single Lighten Up, Morrissey. Aside from that signing when he was “17, clumsy and shy”, have you ever encountered Morrissey, and if so, do you think he liked the song/video?
Ron: Estimated number of ties in your closet? 0-10? 10-50? More?
Is Pineapple your greatest-ever song? Congratulations on being one of the greatest, most original and longest-lived acts of all time!
What are your favourite Ingmar Bergman films?
Sparks are with us now …
Post your questions for Sparks
They are one of the most idiosyncratic acts in pop history, probably the only band to have made disco with Giorgio Moroder, formed a supergroup with Franz Ferdinand, and created a musical about the life of Ingmar Bergman.
Now approaching 50 years in the game, Sparks – aka brothers Ron and Russell Mael – emerged from Los Angeles in the glam rock era, and they scored a UK No 2 hit in 1974 with This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us, before embracing electronics and dance music. They have continuously released records since: in 2008, their Sparks Spectacular concert series saw them perform all 21 in their entirely. Their 23rd album Hippopotamus is out on September 8.
Ahead of its release, Ron and Russell are joining us to answer your questions about their half-century of music and moustaches, in a live webchat from 1pm BST on Wednesday 23 August. Post them in the comments below, and they’ll take on as many as possible.